Posted 7/14/2014 12:00 am
Family-owned businesses are much in the news lately. We notice that Koch industries has launched an expensive image-repair advertising blitz after its owners, brothers Charles and David Koch, have been turned into bogeymen by liberal politicians. Hobby Lobby, another family-owned enterprise, has been on the front page of every newspaper in America in recent weeks and will be invoked, positively or negatively, throughout the upcoming election season.
But most family-owned businesses are not gigantic conglomerates like Koch, nor do they employ tens of thousands like Hobby Lobby. Most family-owned businesses are like those featured in this issue of Arkansas Business — small companies providing security for generations of ownership as well as for their employees.
Big companies and those that go to the public markets for financing get most of the ink, and there are good reasons for that. Investors deserve transparency. But, according to the Small Business Administration, nine out of 10 businesses in this country are family-owned and they represent almost two-thirds of total U.S. employment. The family is not just the backbone of society, but also of our economy.
As we prepared this issue, those of us who merely observe and write about business were again reminded of the nerve and determination it takes to start a business, like the Cranford brothers and Geovanni Leiva, and the fortitude and luck required to make it profitable for a few years. To build something that succeeds long enough to provide for two or three generations, like Horton’s Orthotics & Prosthetics of Little Rock and Pruitt Tool & Supply of Fort Smith, seems almost miraculous.